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Interchange fees in Australia, the UK, and the United States : matching theory and practice

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  • Fumiko Hayashi
  • Stuart E. Wiener

Abstract

Interchange fees are an integral part of the pricing structure of credit and debit card industries. While in recent years the theoretical literature on interchange fees, and payment cards in general, has grown rapidly, the empirical literature has not. There are several reasons for this. First, comprehensive data are hard to obtain. Second, the industries are very complicated, and empirical models need to incorporate many industry-specific features, such as payment-card network rules and government regulations. And third, empirical studies may require a generalized empirical model since, typically, only a few payment card networks exist in a given country. However, because of the first and second reasons, generalizing empirical models may prove problematic. ; Hayashi and Weiner seek to provide a bridge between the theoretical and empirical literatures on interchange fees. Specifically, they confront theory with practice by asking, to what extent do existing models of interchange fees match up with actual interchange fee practices in various countries? For each of three key countries—Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—models that “best” fit the competitive and institutional features of that country’s payment card market are identified, and the implications of those models are compared to actual practices. Along what competitive dimensions is there alignment? Along what competitive dimensions is there not alignment? What country-specific factors appear to be important in explaining deviations from theoretical predictions? The results suggest that a theory applicable in one country may not be applicable in another and that similar interchange fee arrangements and regulations may well have different implications in different countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2006)
Issue (Month): Q III ()
Pages: 75-112

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2006:i:qiii:p:75-112:n:v.91no.3

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Keywords: Credit cards ; Debit cards;

References

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  1. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics Of Payment Card Associations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 549-570, Winter.
  2. Richard Schmalensee, 2001. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," NBER Working Papers 8256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P, 2003. "The Neutrality of Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  4. Stuart E. Weiner & Julian Wright, 2005. "Interchange fees in various countries: developments and determinants," Payments System Research Working Paper PSR WP 05-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  5. Robert M. Hunt, 2003. "An introduction to the economics of payment card networks," Working Papers 03-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Joshua S. Gans & Stephen P. King, 2003. "A Theoretical Analysis of Credit Card Reform in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 462-472, December.
  7. Rochet Jean-Charles & Tirole Jean, 2003. "An Economic Analysis of the Determination of Interchange Fees in Payment Card Systems," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-11, June.
  8. Julian Wright, 2001. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Industrial Organization 0108001, EconWPA.
  9. Fumiko Hayashi, 2004. "A puzzle of card payment pricing : why are merchants still accepting card payments?," Payments System Research Working Paper PSR WP 04-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  10. Sujit Chakravorti & Roberto Roson, 2004. "Platform competition in two-sided markets: the case of payment networks," Working Paper Series WP-04-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Fabio M. Manenti & Ernesto Somma, 2002. "Plastic Clashes: Competition among Closed and Open Systems in the Credit Card Industry," Industrial Organization 0211012, EconWPA.
  12. Rochet Jean-Charles, 2003. "The Theory of Interchange Fees: A Synthesis of Recent Contributions," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-28, June.
  13. Roson Roberto, 2005. "Two-Sided Markets: A Tentative Survey," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-19, June.
  14. Baxter, William F, 1983. "Bank Interchange of Transactional Paper: Legal and Economic Perspectives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 541-88, October.
  15. Fumiko Hayashi & Rick Sullivan & Stuart E. Weiner, 2006. "A guide to the ATM and debit card industry - 2006 update," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, number 2006agttaadci2, December.
  16. Schwartz Marius & Vincent Daniel R., 2006. "The No Surcharge Rule and Card User Rebates: Vertical Control by a Payment Network," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, March.
  17. Evans David S., 2003. "Some Empirical Aspects of Multi-sided Platform Industries," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(3), pages 1-19, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fumiko Hayashi, 2008. "The economics of payment card fee structure: what is the optimal balance between merchant fee and payment card rewards?," Research Working Paper RWP 08-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  2. Robin A. Prager & Mark D. Manuszak & Elizabeth K. Kiser & Ron Borzekowski, 2009. "Interchange fees and payment card networks: economics, industry developments, and policy issues," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Carlos Arango & Kim Huynh & Leonard Sabetti, 2011. "How Do You Pay? The Role of Incentives at the Point-of-Sale," Working Papers 11-23, Bank of Canada.
  4. Fumiko Hayashi, 2013. "The new debit card regulations: effects on merchants, consumers, and payments system efficiency," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q I, pages 89-118.
  5. Fumiko Hayashi, 2006. "Pricing and welfare implications of payment card network competition," Payments System Research Working Paper PSR WP 06-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  6. Oz Shy & Zhu Wang, 2008. "Why do card issuers charge proportional fees?," Research Working Paper RWP 08-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

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